Soon after our pre-dinner treat at Pierre Hermé, the skies opened and it began to pour. We ran back from where we had come and popped into this adorable restaurant – Le Petit Saint Benoit. We were led past the bar into another room fulling of tables and chairs. And I mean full! We were sat at a row of two-tops and our table had to be pulled out for me to get to my seat by the wall.
To start, we had poireaux vinaigrette and the housemade terrine. Both very simple but tasty nonetheless.
I chose the boeuf Bourguignon as my main, which came in a little Staub cocotte and was fork tender. It was a little burnt at the bottom due to the hot little pot but that only affected a little of the beef.
Blai chose coq au vin, one of the specials of the day – this was a total winner of a dish. The chicken (or should I say cockerel) was cooked to total tenderness and tasted fantastic in that reduced red wine sauce.
For dessert, I had the daily special of tarte Tatin, served with a good helping of creme fraiche. Pretty good, not too sweet.
Blai chose the Montblanc, a mixture of creme de marrons (sweetened chestnut puree) and whipped cream. Delicious and we’ve been recreating it at home with tins of creme de marrons we brought back from Paris.
This is such a lovely restaurant with loads of character, as one would expect from a restaurant that opened in 1901. Of course, if sitting elbow to elbow to your neighbours is your idea of hell, then perhaps this restaurant is not for you. Actually, um… most of Paris was like that and I definitely don’t have a problem with that!
The next day, a Tuesday, was our last day in Paris and we decided to have a proper lunch as we would not have time for a sitdown dinner. I kept my eyes peeled that lunchtime when we got close to the Musee d’Orsay – after passing a few extremely packed cafes and a couple overpriced posh brasseries, we came across a tiny little bar brasserie with a shabby red awning. A quick glance at the menu posted outside and the packed seats inside gave me a gut feeling that this place was going to be good.
Inside, a row of narrow banquettes lined the wall, all of them packed with locals on their lunch break. We squeezed into a tiny table for two by the door and placed orders for delicious confit de canard!
Look at that duck, with its crispy skin and tender flesh, and the best ever potatoes fried in duck fat, and that dressed green salad, so refreshing. Later that day, I actually purchased a massive tin the size of my head full of confit de canard! I’m saving it for a special occasion!
For dessert, Blai chose this terrific delice Normande of apple compote topped with a creme anglaise (I think) and sliced almonds. I only managed a tiny taste before he wolfed the whole thing down.
I chose the petit pavé de chocolat avec creme Chantilly and some kind of orange sauce. Wow, that little puck of chocolate was exceptionally rich and we both struggled to finish this tiny portion! It was heavenly though; I just wish I had had more room in my stomach to do it justice.
What a delightful little place and the proprietress was equally charming! The lesson to be taken away from all this is, of course, not to judge a restaurant by its dirty awning! These little places seem to be everywhere in Paris but I suppose the new and shiny will always seem more appealing than these older places. But do try them!
Le Petit Saint Benoit
4, rue Saint Benoit
Bar Brasserie Le Bellechasse
33, rue de Bellechasse